Massage therapy can promote healing, alleviate pain and increase flexibility, movement while also improving patients mental well-being.
Featured photo by Derrick Martinez
Say the word “massage” and it often evokes a luxurious day at the spa for some people.
While massage is a great way to relax, massage therapy is also used on people with various diseases and diagnoses, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injuries or closed head injuries, or on individuals dealing with pain from a vehicle-related or other type of accident.
Massage modalities can range from craniosacral therapy, soft tissue manipulation, active release techniques, positioning release therapy and reciprocal inhibition techniques, trigger point therapy and Touch for Health kinesiology work.
“Gentle touches to the body can help with pain — soft touch going into the muscles,” said Ronna Perlman, who recently became a licensed massage therapist after completing her training at Irene’s Myomassology Institute in Southfield, a leading massage therapy school in the country.
“It helps the nervous system with blood circulation and it’s a great complement to traditional medical treatments,” Perlman said. “It also helps maintain flexibility.”
Brian Schurgin, president of Better Life Home Care, began providing therapeutic massage therapy five years ago for individuals who have sustained automobile accidents.
Schurgin, who also was trained and teaches courses at Irene’s Institute of Myomassology, sees patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), MS, stroke and dementia, along with car accident patients. He and his fellow massage therapists at Better Life focus on four kinds of massage: neuromuscular re-education, myofascial release, massage treatments, and cold and heat pack therapy.
He says he’s also seen an increase in patients who are asking for CBD oil to be incorporated into the massage practice.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, has lately come into vogue and can be found at independent and national health food stores. Cannabidiol is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of the cannabis plant. It is generally considered safe and non-addictive and is one of the more than 100 phytocannabinoids in cannabis, according to an article recently published in Massage & Bodywork magazine.
Schurgin said he considers CBD safe to use on anyone. He notes that the body naturally has cannabinoid receptors (also known as our internal endocannabinoid system) and, when used, CBD can affect how we experience pain and stress.
“Pain management, MS and Parkinson’s are the key focus for CBD use,” he said. “Soft tissue massage, in conjunction with CBD, helps promote the alleviation of pain and increases relaxation. People are absolutely asking for it.”
Arlene Schreiber, owner of Medpro Therapeutics in Franklin, works exclusively with clients who are referred to her by doctors. She focuses on craniosacral therapy, which, as she describes it, is a gentle, hands-on approach to massage that releases tensions in the body, relieves pain and dysfunction, and improves overall whole-body health and wellness.
Clients who see Schreiber typically have sustained traumatic brain injuries or are experiencing acute or chronic pain related to accidents.
“Craniosacral therapy works with the central nervous system,” Schreiber said. “I believe more in the osteopathic school of thought that the body can heal itself. (Craniosacral therapy) can be used on anyone and everyone. There are very few contraindications for it.”
As a licensed massage therapist, Schreiber said it’s important to her to dispel the myth that massage is just for relaxation.
“Massage and the different modalities of massage are very important in the medical world, and it’s important that they’re recognized as such,” she said. “A lot of people benefit from the results they get from a session.”
Perlman, who has a background in psychology, said massage therapy boosts mental health in addition to physical health.
“When I talk about mental health, relaxation and massage help,” she said. “Mental health is really important, and touch is important. We lose our connection (with touch) as adults and we lose that quality of touch. Massage can really help with that.”